Crystal Palace v Everton
Sunday 20 March, 12:30
Live on ITV and Betfair Live Video
Here’s a fact you probably won’t realise – these two sides have the same number of Premier League wins this season (7).
But while Everton remain deep in the relegation dogfight, sitting just one place above the drop zone, Palace are up in 11th with a top-half finish very much a possibility.
Palace tough to beat
Clearly that’s down to fact they’ve been much harder to beat with 13 draws on their record and that’s the result which looks a decent price ahead of this FA Cup tie.
Palace showed their dogged side on Monday night when they battled to earn a 0-0 draw with Manchester City, a second successive clean sheet following a 2-0 win at Wolves.
It’s now just one defeat in nine in all competitions, although focus solely on home form and things don’t look quite so rosy. Of their last seven at Selhurst Park, only EFL sides Hartlepool and Stoke have been beaten. This will be their first FA Cup tie this season against Premier League opposition.
Patrick Vieira receives a boost here with full-back Joel Ward available again, although the team’s recent defensive displays suggest he’ll struggle to win his place back immediately. Midfielder James MacArthur remains out.
Toffees show gritty side
Barring a miserable night at Tottenham, Everton’s defensive record has also improved under Frank Lampard.
They’ve kept clean sheets against Leeds, Boreham Wood and Newcastle (admittedly all at home), only a silly error saw them lose 1-0 to Manchester City, while high-flying Wolves also scored only once against the Toffees.
Key for the visitors will be how they respond to Thursday’s gritty 1-0 victory over Newcastle.
It was much-needed and potentially provides a springboard both for this game and the rest of the league campaign.
What will encourage Everton fans is the likelihood of having Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison back in tandem, something which hasn’t happened too often this term.
Calvert-Lewin played a key role in the goal on Thursday having come on as a sub but Lampard says he is ready to start and given the impact the England international made, he surely will.
His presence in the middle will allow Richarlison to drift into wider positions from which he can be more effective.
Allan’s red card in that game means he’s suspended – Andre Gomes will likely come in – but few other changes are expected with Asmir Begovic continuing in goal in place of the ill Jordan Pickford; the Bosnian was very solid against Newcastle.
While Lampard will hope for a repeat of that battling performance against the Magpies, he’ll also know his side’s deficiencies on the road this season (just one league win and that back in August).
Tight contest in store
I’d therefore expect them to set up to frustrate their hosts and it may not be pretty again.
Given Palace’s struggles to win on home soil, I can’t be backing them at odds-on – they look potential lay material.
Instead, the draw at 3.55 offers some appeal in the match result market.
If Everton can keep that defence solid, a tight game looks in prospect and so another angle is to go low on goals.
Under 2.5 has landed in seven of Palace’s last nine and five of Everton’s last six, although the market is clued up and that option is available at just 1.768/11.
Perhaps under 1.5 goals is also worth considering. That’s occurred in three of Everton’s last five and three of Palace’s last seven yet can be backed at 3.259/4.
For those seeking chunkier odds, I’ll give a few prices a mention – these would lead to some massive Bet Builder odds.
First, Anthony Gordon looks big in the ‘shown a card’ market at 11/2.
The 21-year-old is Everton through and through, the fans are fully behind the local lad and clearly the club’s current predicament means a lot to him.
Not for the first time since Lampard arrived, Gordon was throwing himself into challenges against Newcastle when he collected his third card of the season.
He’ll need to do his fair share of tracking back here too.
It’s also worth noting that only Leeds and Leicester have conceded more set-piece goals than Palace in the league this season.
While heading to the anytime goalscorer market rather flies in the face of the suggestion of this being a low-scoring game, there also looks a decent chance that it is settled by a set-piece goal given both sides’ struggles in defending them.
With that in mind, I’m happy to give Ben Godfrey a mention as he’s a whopping 33/1 to score in this contest.
While Godfrey is yet to score this season, he’s been knocking on the door of late and had a great early chance on Thursday but could only head straight at the keeper.
It was the fourth time in his last five league games that defender has managed a shot on target, while two of the last three have been headers from set-plays. This is no co-incidence given Everton’s main set-piece threat, Yerry Mina, is currently injured.
Anyone backing Godfrey here will likely get the added bonus of him striding forward from left-back (as opposed to centre-back) and the numbers show he’s been prepared to fire off shots when he’s played in that position before.
Crystal Palace’s 3-1 win over Everton in December in the Premier League was their first against the Toffees in 14 matches (D7 L6), with their last success in this fixture before this season coming in September 2014. The Eagles have never beaten Everton twice in the same campaign.